#LetsMakeWednesdays – Wonderfully Weird Wedgwood

October 28, 2020

What was the last thing you ate? What was it served on? Every day we use ceramics to eat and drink our food. But do the shapes match their contents? Pots aren’t always as they seem …

Cauliflower teapot by Wedgwood, 1765. Museum no. 4255 © V&A Wedgwood Collection/Fiskars

This Wedgwood example looks like a cauliflower but it’s actually a teapot.

Josiah Wedgwood was born in 1730. He was a potter and invented many new shapes for all the different kinds of food and drink that might be served at a magnificent dinner party.

In the 18th century, over 200 years ago, dining was very theatrical (so you could impress your important guests!). There were different dishes and platters for serving complicated meals with expensive ingredients from far away. Many of these foods are very normal for us today, like sugar and cocoa. Fruit like pineapples, which you can easily buy in any supermarket now, had to be grown in large, heated glass houses, and they were shown off in pride of place at the dinner table.

Pineapple centrepiece or ‘Epergne’, shape no. 371, 18th century. Wedgwood Shape Book E54-30028b © V&A Wedgwood Collection/Fiskars

At the V&A Collection at World of Wedgwood in The Potteries, the heart of English ceramics, you can see familiar shapes like dinner plates or tea sets as well as more unusual ones like custard cups, chestnut baskets, asparagus trays and radish dishes.

Artichoke-shaped Custard Cup by Wedgwood, 1775 – 80. Museum no. 3759 © V&A Wedgwood Collection/Fiskars

Let’s make some weird Wedgwood-inspired spooky showstoppers to decorate the dinner table for Halloween!

Let’s design a special spooky dish for your favourite frightening food!

Choose your favourite food. Is it a particular dish you or your family cook on special occasions? Is it a fruit or vegetable, or even a drink? Let’s make a spooky version!
Imagine a witch, a werewolf, or a zombie came for dinner and you wanted to impress them with a Halloween feast. What would they look like and what would they like to eat? What interesting ingredients would you want to add to impress them with your spookiness? Maybe something poisonous like the hats of toadstools, or even something really gruesome like ground fingernails or slimy slugs!

When you imagine this spooky food, what would be the very best thing to serve it on? Is the food solid or liquid? Is it served hot or cold or maybe even frozen? Do you only eat a little portion from a tiny dish, or should it be a huge plate full?

Lamp Vase Spider & Web, shape no. 3752, 20th century. Wedgwood Shape Book E54-30019i © V&A Wedgwood Collection/Fiskars

Take a pencil and paper and draw the outline of the perfect shape for your spooky food – just like Josiah Wedgwood would have done in one of his Shape Books.

You could also give a special scary name to this new ceramic shape … and don’t forget to give it a shape number so that it doesn’t get mixed up with all of the other ghoulish creations at the Wedgwood factory!

Coffee Pot and Cover by Wedgwood, with a pattern designed by Olwyn Cotgreaves, about 1950. Museum no. 9265 © V&A Wedgwood Collection/Fiskars

Now that you have decided on the shape of your special spooky piece, you need to decorate it. Are you going for hair-raising decoration like spiders and other creepy crawlies on the Wedgwood coffee pot, or should it be fairytale creatures like elves and imps like in the pattern book entry? Or maybe you could use something that has never been used to create dishes before like dragon leather, monster skin or mummy wrappings? Eeek!

Fairyland Lustre pattern no. 3081, 1930, Wedgwood Pattern Book E62-33380 © V&A Wedgwood Collection/Fiskars

If you don’t feel like drawing or painting today, maybe you can find some plasticine or create your spooky ceramics out of paper?

We’ve got some inspiration for you here with our spooky tableware prototypes: a pumpkin-shaped bowl to hold spooky spaghetti Bolognese served with a frog fork and lily pad placemat. For dessert a witch’s hat shaped ice-cream dish … mmmm!

We can’t wait to see all your spooky ceramics!

Don’t forget to share your new creations with us on social media using #LetsMakeWednesdays

1 comment so far, view or add yours


Another great piece to get us thinking. Love the tea pots.

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